If you were to ask any Penn State fan who will be the MVP of the team’s offense this fall, one obvious choice will stand out (If I have to tell you who that player is, welcome to the wonderful world of Penn State Football! His name is Saquon Barkley, and he’s pretty darn good).
But on defense, it’s a little more fuzzy. There are several standouts, as well as some players with immense potential who could be on the verge of a major breakout season. Let’s look at some of the candidates:
S Marcus Allen- Possibly the nation’s top safety, Allen is primed for a huge season and could hear his name called in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen is a complete force against the run and an intimidating presence for anyone who crosses his path. He plays with the type of enthusiasm that easily rubs off on his teammates, and will be the unquestioned leader of the secondary.
LB Jason Cabinda- The senior captain exudes leadership, and brings plenty of experience that will serve him well as he looks to fully become one of the greats at Linebacker U. by the time he plays his final game in a Nittany Lions uniform.
CB Grant Haley- “Game Time Grant” has come up huge for Penn State in the clutch, and will continue to play his best in the biggest moments as a senior. With John Reid likely to miss the entirety of the 2017 season with a knee injury, it will be up to Haley to shut down the opponent’s top receiver on a weekly basis.
DT Curtis Cothran- Cothran came on strong towards the end of the 2016 season, and should spend plenty of time in opponents backfields as a senior. Don’t be surprised if Cothran is among the nation’s leaders in tackles for loss in 2017.
DT Parker Cothren- The Alabama-native has quietly had a stellar career at Penn State, and his steady play will once again be counted on to help shut down the run game, something the Nittany Lions will look to really improve upon this fall.
DT Kevin Givens- While he may not be a starter in 2017, Givens will see plenty of time as part of a deep rotation at defensive tackle. Givens always makes his presence well-known whenever he is on the field- with an incredibly quick first step and massive strength, Givens is a load for even the best interior linemen on the other side of the field. He will only continue to get better as a redshirt sophomore.
DEs Shareef Miller/Torrence Brown/Shane Simmons- Miller and Brown have shown flashes of greatness in reserve roles, and both or either have the potential to become All-Big Ten players in 2017. Simmons is a former five-star prospect who has patiently been waiting to see the field, and will get his first chance to prove himself this fall.
So what say you, BSD reader? Who do you got as the MVP of the Nittany Lions defense in 2017?